The Department of Geological Sciences at SDSU is committed to an on-going process of program-level assessment. Assessment is defined as the systematic collection, review, and use of information for the purpose of improving student learning. Assessment is directed toward answering three questions:
• What do we want students to learn?
• How well are they learning what they need?
• How can we help them learn more effectively?
We have an Assessment Coordinator appointed with the responsibility of developing and carrying out the assessment plan.
Assessment Plan: This plan was approved by Division of Undergraduate Studies University Committee on Assessment on January 23, 2004.
Purpose of the Assessment
The fundamental purpose of assessment in the Department of Geological Sciences is to improve student learning. Good assessment provides students with multiple opportunities to practice and to demonstrate understanding of content and to develop skills by receiving specific and timely feedback in order to improve achievement. Good assessment requires collection and analysis of data for the purpose of modifying and refining educational objectives, curriculum, and instructional methods to better meet student needs.
A secondary purpose of assessment is accountability; demonstrating to accrediting agencies, governing bodies, constituencies, and other interested parties that we are effective in achieving the goals of our strategic plan. Department assessment must demonstrate that our students have knowledge, skills, and competencies consistent with institutional goals and that at graduation have achieved appropriate higher education goals. This effort contributes to the institutional responsibility for producing, reporting, interpreting, and explaining learning outcomes.
Department Mission Statement
Graduates of the SDSU Geological Sciences department become skilled in the analysis of the earth system and its components, and graduate ready to lead the professional and academic community in geosciences.
The procedures, data, results, and interpretations of assessment activities are summarized in a report that is submitted on an annual basis to the University Committee on Assessment. Here are the progress reports prepared until now.
In order to carry out our assessment we have prepared several questionnaires and rubrics that help us to obtain the appropriate information. Some of them are specific for our needs and others are more general. They are available here in pdf formats.
Goals are statements of broad, long range intended outcomes of the program and the curriculum. They describe the knowledge, skills, and values expected of graduates. Goals flow from the mission statement and provide a framework for the objectives.
Objectives are brief, clear statements of learning outcomes that flow from the goals. They should specify observable and measurable behaviors.
Undergraduate Program Goals and Objectives
Goal 1. Understand earth history and systems, emphasizing life on Earth and sedimentary systems.
Objective 1.1 Understand the history of life on Earth using common fossil taxa.
Objective 1.2 Integrate sedimentological and stratigraphic data to reconstruct environmental history.
Goal 2 Understand field-based geological and geophysical investigations, emphasizing earth structure and dynamics.
Objective 2.1 Integrate diverse physical and structural data to reconstruct Earth history and understand Earth’s physical dynamics.
Objective 2.2 Apply appropriate physical and mechanical principles to quantify and predict the actions of Earth processes and resulting physical structures.
Goal 3 Understand Earth materials and composition in all parts of the geosphere.
Objective 3.1 Identify and understand the relationships between the basic chemical building blocks that make up minerals and rocks.
Objective 3.2 Integrate chemical data to understand active and past Earth processes using compositional clues. Geoscience Methods, Norms and Epistemology
Goal 4 Understand the nature and collection of evidence in the Earth Sciences.
Objective 4.1 Construct accurate and interpretive geologic or geophysical maps in the field from data gathered during field-based investigations.
Objective 4.2 Communicate the results of any type of Earth science investigations via complete, concise, and coherent written and oral reports.
Goal 5. Understand geoscientificdata interpretation: methods and paradigms.
Objective 5.1 Understand how to use the investigative method of multiple working hypotheses in authentic geological and geophysical investigations.
Objective 5.2 Understand and interpret Earth systems and complex system-scale interactions from the integration of diverse geoscientific data.
Undergraduate Program Statistics topics emphasized - Statistics is an intensively used branch of mathematics in the geological sciences. Statistics allows you to make sense of data and consists of four components: collecting, summarizing, analyzing, and presenting data. In the course of completing the B.S. curriculum at SDSU you will encounter numerous geological data sets that illustrate how specific computational procedures can be applied to problems in earth sciences. Your ability to apply statistical methods in data analysis is an important learning outcome of the program. Here is a list of topics we emphasize.
Populations and Sampling Graphical data representation
Use of Microsoft Excel
Standard deviation stdev()
Standard error stdev()/sqrt()
confidence intervals for the mean for large n or where the population standard deviation is known, use confidence() [based on standard error] for small n, use ttinv()
t-test difference between mean values for small (<30) numbers of samples Excel tools/data analysis or ttest() which returns the probability that the two data sets came from the same population. Choices: one-tailed or two-tailed; data may be paired, equal variance, or unequal variance See also tdist(), tinv()
f-test difference between variance of samples. Excel: tools/data analysis or ftest() See also fdist(), finv()
ANOVA difference between more than 2 groups of data Excel: tools/data analysis
chi-square test difference between expected and observed values Excel: chitest() See also chidist(), chiinv()
line-fitting fit a line to data points (right-click data point on chart, add trendline; tools/data analysis/regression; linest)
correlation coefficients how well data match correl()
This site has information on assessment-related activities throughout the CSU system. Included are assessment websites and contacts for each CSU campus, announcements concerning system-wide initiatives, assessment conferences, assessment clearinghouses, articles on assessment, and selected web sites at campuses across the United States
The Geoscience Concept Inventory (GCI) is a multiple-choice assessment instrument for use in the Earth sciences classroom. We developed a pool of 73 questions that could be selected by an instructor to create a customized 15-question GCI subtest for use in their course. These test items cover topics related to general physical geology concepts, as well as underlying fundamental ideas in physics and chemistry, such as gravity and radioactivity, that are integral to understanding the conceptual Earth. Each question has gone through rigorous reliability and validation studies (Libarkin et al., 2005; Libarkin and Anderson, 2005a,b)
Motivated by the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) created by Halloun and Hestenes[1–4] and its impact on physics education, the Foundation Coalition (FC) is working to create concept inventories for specific engineering disciplines. The FCI was designed to measure conceptual, not computational, understanding of Newtonian mechanics. The questions focus on intuitive comprehension independent of knowledge of the terminology or numerical modeling. Following the lead of the FCI, faculty members are creating concept inventories for other disciplines. The FC offers thirteen easy-to-use concept inventories that are intended for pre-and post-testing to encourage evaluation of different teaching approaches. To prevent student access, instruments are not posted on the Web site but may be readily obtained by contacting the developer.
The Statistics Concept Inventory (SCI) is a multiple choice assessment tool designed for introductory statistics courses. The SCI is designed to be in similar format to the Force Concept Inventory, which has been successful in assessing student understanding of Newtonian Mechanics and transforming teaching to improve understanding. The scores and gains (from pre to post) are similar to those found on early testing of the FCI in classes which use the traditional lecture format. The SCI is divided into the sub-tests Descriptive, Probability, Inferential, and Graphical based on the results of factor analysis. Each category has around 9 questions.
5500 Campanile Dr • 237 Geology Mathematics and Computer Science Building • San Diego • CA 92182-1020 • (619) 594-5586
If you need assistance, contact Geological Sciences at 619-594-5586, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us on campus GMCS-237. Our office hours are 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday-Friday